The Day of The Dead


Image via Eventbrite

Belen Garcia, Writer

Halloween is probably one of the most famous holidays in the world, with a very diverse past filled with unique traditions. In the US people dress up in costumes, trick or treat for candy, and the pumpkin. In Mexico, they have a really different way to celebrate Halloween or as we know it in Mexico, The Day of the Dead. 

The Day of the Dead is the most international Mexican holiday. The origin of The Day of the Dead is not very clear. We do not know if it is an indigenous tradition, a Mexican tradition, a European tradition, or a mixture of both.

This festival lasts two days throughout the country, in which all Mexican families celebrate and commemorate their ancestors. The holiday takes place from the 31st of October to November 1st. In these two days, it fills the streets with skulls, in a tradition that dates back to pre-Columbian times. This tradition was born as an offering ritual for the goddess of death: Mictecacíhuatl and her husband Mictlantecuhtli, the god of the land of the dead. In these rituals, skulls were worn and shown off as if they were trophies. Dances and songs were performed honoring the dead and attract good luck to the world of the living. Nowadays, the skulls are painted with cheerful faces and bright, vibrant colors. The colors are one of the fundamental characteristics of this party, with parades full of music and different colors. 

Probably the most famous tradition of The Day of the Dead is the tradition of creating altars for the deceased loved ones. Every year Mexican families go to cemeteries to make an altar of marigold; a beautiful orange flower that guides the dead on their journey from the land of the dead to the land of the living. The altar also has candles that symbolize heaven, incense representing the land of the dead. Different foods such as bread of the dead, sweet skulls, or caramelized fruits symbolize the earth.

If we talk about the typical costume of the festivities, the catrinas are probably one of the most beautiful. A catrina is a colorful dress from the 18th century, with a large hat, wide skirt, and many flowers. The very elaborate skull makeup is undoubtedly the part that stands out the most.

The Day of the Dead got a lot of world fame thanks to Coco. A Disney movie about a boy called Miguel, who dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz, but his family doesn’t like music because of a deceased relative. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the authentic story behind Miguel’s family history.